Judges: If You Graduate From Columbia, We're Not Hiring

More than a dozen conservative Trump appointees sign letter saying they won't hire its grads
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2024 9:21 AM CDT
Judges: If You Graduate From Columbia, We're Not Interested
Stock photo of the Columbia University campus.   (Getty Images/peterspiro)

Columbia University is facing more backlash over pro-Palestine campus protests, this time from more than a dozen conservative federal judges who penned a letter over the weekend to Columbia President Minouche Shafik to inform her they won't consider Columbia grads for clerkships or other gigs—both students from the university's Law School and in general—reports the Wall Street Journal. The 13 judges, all appointees of former President Trump, note they'll effectively blackball any students who study at Columbia, starting with this fall's entering class; current students ostensibly wouldn't be affected, per the Washington Post. More:

  • Letter: "Disruptors have threatened violence, committed assaults, and destroyed property," the 13 judges wrote in their May 6 note to Shafik. "As judges who hire law clerks every year to serve in the federal judiciary, we have lost confidence in Columbia as an institution of higher education."

  • Letter, II: The Ivy League school has become an "incubator of bigotry," the judges write, adding that "freedom of speech protects protest, not trespass, and certainly not acts or threats of violence or terrorism. Speech is not violence, and violence is not speech." It adds that diverse ideological viewpoints should be allowed on campus, and not just for the left.
  • Precedence: James Ho and Elizabeth Branch, circuit court judges who led the writing of the letter, had said in 2022 and 2023 they wouldn't hire grads from Stanford's and Yale's law schools after conservative speakers at those schools drew student protests.
  • Columbia response: In a statement, Gillian Lester, dean of Columbia Law School, said simply, "We are proud that Columbia Law School graduates are consistently sought out by leading employers in the private and public sectors, including the judiciary." No word yet from Shafik.
  • Pushback: Not everyone agrees that this is a fair way to address disagreement over how the Columbia protests have been handled. "Boycotts by employers of entire student bodies serve little purpose," Nikia Gray of the National Association for Law Placement tells the Journal. "Hiring decisions should be based on a candidate's individual qualifications and conduct, not the institution named on their diploma."
  • Pushback, II: Former federal and state Judge Jeremy Fogel notes that the judges don't seem very impartial in making this move, adding that the ban "likely punishes people who may have had no involvement in the campus protests."
(More Columbia University stories.)

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